June 7, 2011
Today I was really touched by one of our IRD staff. He’s the project manager for the Safe Educational Opportunities program, Sausavanh. The thing is, he did nothing particularly special today. In fact, he did pretty much what he does every day. Sausavanh didn’t save a drowning child, rescue a cat from a tree, or make the winning touchdown. Instead, he met with a few people, picked us up from the market, and generally just did his job.
Out of everyone in our office (maybe even including Heather and me), Sausavanh has the best English. Unlike others, he has the language capabilities to communicate fully with Heather and me. If he wanted, he could bring us into his office every morning and tell us about the impact he has made throughout his career in development. He could tell us how he has worked with IRD from the beginning, when IRD came to Laos, and how he has stuck with them the entire way. He could tell us about villages that now have access to clean water, children who no longer go hungry during the school day, and mothers and fathers whose daughters now come home smiling after school. He could tell us of villages transformed, schools rehabilitated, and lives changed because of his work. He could tell us of all these things, and I assure you they are true.
But…instead he sits quietly at his desk. Often he is the first to arrive and the last to leave. Though he is the boss, he makes no special allowances for himself. If you pass by his office, you will notice him completely consumed by his work. He gives all of himself to his job.
One night last week, while he was still working out in the field, I asked him, “What made you do this?” In his soft, peaceful voice he replied, “I went out to the village, and I saw small children going hungry. I could not bear it. So, I decided I would commit my life to development. And now I smile when I see the children in our villages smiling and happy.”
I said that Sausavanh gives all of himself to his job, but I think if you ask him he might say that this is not a job, but a way of life. It’s part of living together with one another. We help each other out. It’s what you do when you see someone in need. How else can you respond?
For me, it’s the people who live faithfully, chipping away at life, who can often go unacknowledged that I am touched by. Today, I realized my life has changed by meeting Sausavanh, though he probably doesn’t realize it. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one.